NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice today announced a finalized consent decree with The Sherwin-Williams Company to remove lead and arsenic contaminated soil and sediment at the United States Avenue Burn Superfund site in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. The site is one of three Superfund sites in Gibbsboro and Voorhees, New Jersey where Sherwin-Williams is doing cleanup work. It is located near a former paint manufacturing plant and was used as a paint waste dump. Sherwin-Williams will pay an estimated $21 million to clean up the site and pay nearly $1.5 million towards reimbursement of EPA’s past response costs related to the three sites. Additionally, the agreement calls for the company to pay future response costs in overseeing the work to be performed under the consent decree, which was entered by the court on April 16, 2019.
“This important agreement builds on years of previous work performed at the site and will result in the removal of approximately 60,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil out of the community,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “EPA is engaging the responsible party constructively to make this community whole and protect people’s health.”
Reports indicate that paint wastes and solvents were dumped or poured onto the ground at the United States Avenue Burn site and often burned. These activities contaminated soil, sediment, groundwater and surface water with hazardous chemicals. Work has already been conducted to address the immediate risks posed by the site, including some excavation and disposal of contaminated soil from a portion of the site and the installation of fencing. The restricted and fenced portion of the United States Avenue Burn site is 13 acres in size. The site also includes portions of White Sand Branch, Honey Run Brook, and the railroad track area near Bridgewood Lake.
Under the cleanup plan, contaminated soil will be removed and properly disposed of at approved facilities that are licensed to handle the waste. The excavated areas will be backfilled with clean soil, replanted with vegetation and restored. Contaminated soil beneath United States Avenue will remain undisturbed. The asphalt paving and roadbed will act as a cap, preventing exposure.
The cleanup also requires excavation of contaminated sediment from White Sand Branch and Honey Run Brook, and a system to temporarily divert the stream will be constructed to access the sediment. In total, approximately 825 cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be removed. Water will be removed from the sediment and after treatment to meet New Jersey permitted levels will be discharged to White Sand Branch and Honey Run Brook. Processed sediment will be taken to a facility licensed to receive the waste. The streams will be restored after the excavation. The EPA will monitor surface water to ensure that water quality standards are met in White Sand Branch and Honey Run Brook.
The EPA will coordinate with all impacted property owners to ensure that the work is done with minimal disruption. The EPA will monitor the air near work areas throughout the process to ensure the safety of workers and the surrounding community.
The EPA is requiring that deed notices be placed on certain properties to govern how the land may be managed in the future in order to limit people’s exposure to contaminated soil. The EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.
Overall Sherwin-Williams Sites
The soil and sediment cleanup at the United States Avenue Burn site builds on years of previous work conducted at the site to address immediate risks. The United States Avenue Burn Superfund site, the Route 561 Dump site, and the Sherwin-Williams/Hilliards Creek Superfund site are all sources of contaminated soil and sediment, which has spread onto a number of properties within Gibbsboro and Voorhees, New Jersey. Across the three sites, under previous orders by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA, Sherwin-Williams has:
• removed 8,096 cubic yards of sludge from a former lagoon area,
• removed 44,785 gallons of liquid waste,
• installed a soil vapor extraction treatment system to reduce the volatile organic compounds in soil near two former plant buildings,
• installed fencing to limit access to some source areas, and
• started soil cleanup at residential properties, which is ongoing.
Residential properties cleanup
EPA’s approach at the sites has been to prioritize residential cleanup, and in 2015, EPA selected a cleanup plan for certain residential properties, including some near Kirkwood Lake. Sherwin-Williams is working on the residential cleanups with EPA oversight. At EPA’s direction, Sherwin-Williams began residential cleanups in Gibbsboro several years ago and now has extended that soil cleanup work to Kirkwood Lake properties. EPA will oversee this work to ensure that it is done in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment as well as minimizes disruption and inconvenience for property owners.
While these cleanups move forward, Sherwin-Williams is conducting studies to address the former paint manufacturing plant and waterbodies portion of the Sherwin-Williams Hilliards Creek site. EPA expects a feasibility study, which identifies cleanup alternatives for soil and sediment at the former paint manufacturing plant, will be completed this summer followed by remedy selection in late 2019. EPA expects the investigation of waterbodies, including portions of Silver Lake, a large portion of Hilliards Creek and all of Kirkwood Lake and Bridgewood Lake, will be completed in 2019, followed by remedy selection in 2020.
Under the Trump Administration, the Superfund program has reemerged as a priority to fulfill the agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. The Superfund Task Force Update can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations.